A recipe for running a hostel

October 29th, 2017

We get asked all the time what it’s like to operate and work in a hostel.  So we thought the best option would be to give you a play-by-play on how we did/do it, so hopefully you come away with the best result if you decide to give it a go yourself.  *Word of warning – we’re going to be delivering this to you like a cook-book would, so the wording might be a little ambiguous at the best of times.

Step 1.  Decide where you want to cook!

Not all kitchen’s (town’s) need a hostel, or maybe your kitchen has too many hostel’s already.  Location is key, and a good hostel will always be convenient to everything around it, not to mention be located in a kitchen where people actually want to dine!  So don’t get too excited and start cooking in the wrong spot, as it could put a real dampener on the final result.

Step 2.  Prepare your ingredients

Don’t be afraid to vary the recipe a little depending on the amount of people your cooking for and the size of your dish (hostel), but this is approximately what you’ll require:

A couple of dozen beds/mattresses – Larger size preferred, free-range if possible, always fresh!

Bunks – Normally half as many bunks as mattresses (as there’s 2 beds for every bunk, D’UH!), only necessary if you’re into that sort of thing – as in, if you’re using beds instead of just mattresses, one would expect them supplied with bases.  Also “D’uh”.

Toilets and showers – How many people are you cooking for?  Take that amount, divide by 4, and order appropriately.  Too little and your dish may be a little lacking.  You can either have them in the dish (en suite) or on the side (shared bathroom) depending on preference.  Always clean your produce!

Linen and Pillows – Once again, depending on how many people you’re cooking for, but multiply that amount by 3 for every item of linen and pillows.  Also expect to re-order within a couple of years to top off your dish, as you will use up this ingredient quicker than you think!  And as always, wash and dry your produce before using it.

Powerpoints and Lights – Sprinkle in as many as your dish requires (at least one of each per diner), and prioritize energy efficiency as you’ll end up with probably a lot of each – higher quality ingredients will always give the best result.

Kitchen – These days this is one of the most important ingredients, and can make or break your dish.  What do you need at home to make an amazing meal?  You’ll need multiple of each (sinks, stove tops, ovens etc.), fridges as far as the eye can see, seating for at least half of your full occupancy of diners at any one time, tea/coffee/spices to taste, and make sure it’s clean and ready at all times.  A view can always help, but space and outfit is paramount for a quality product.

Storage – Lots.  Lots and Lots.  For everything you can possible imagine + more.  Seriously.  We can’t stress this enough. LOTS!  Did we say ‘lots’?

Lounge Room – Needs to be spacious and comfortable, with books, video games, movies and board games.  Your diners will need somewhere to rest their heads after a few drinks with dinner, or to hide when the weather doesn’t come to the dinner party.

Laundry – Industrial strength for best result.  Should be cleaned prior to use, and kept in great condition to re-heat for seconds.

Free Wi-Fi – Because wi-fi should should always be free – how can you expect your diners to instagram your dish if you don’t give them the means to do so?

Reception – You’ll need somewhere for your diners to be received before their seating, so make sure it’s got space to sit if there’s a wait for a table.  And that it’s friendly.  And it’s filled with information about their up-coming dining experience.  A well informed diner is a happy diner, as they will inevitably waste less of their own time asking questions you could have probably already given them the answer to.

Staff – Knowledgeable, friendly and reliable.  Ultimately one of the key ingredients to make your dish as tasty as possible, and to clean up after your diners are finished!

Step 3.  Combine your ingredients and mix well

One of the easier steps as you’ll simply need to combine all the ingredients in your chosen kitchen and mix well, however don’t let that statement fool you.  The mixing process is often filled with un-planned and un-scheduled delays and variables, so just give yourself plenty of time to avoid hungry diners.  And of course make sure your kitchen is ready before you order all your ingredients – it doesn’t really work having ingredients with no kitchen to store and prepare them.

Step 4.   Serve and enjoy

Time to plate up and eat!  Sounds so simple right?  It will take some time to get everything perfect, so expect a few issues along the way.  You’ll need to be on-hand a whole bunch to make sure everyone from staff to diners are happy – so you’ll inevitably end up doing a lot of hours slaving over the stove – and prepare yourself for more than a few broken eggs a long the way.  The old adage of “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen” applies here, as you’ll have to deal with everything from broken ingredients, stolen ingredients, to ingredients not even being delivered at all, not to mention all the variables that people themselves bring to the party.

Step 5.  Refine and stay happy! 

As the years go by, you might find the recipe needs to be altered to keep the diners happy.  This comes about because as time goes by, expectations change.  Take the Tao-ist approach – there are as many expectations as there are people to have them in the first place.  This is an opportunity to make things work better for both you and your diners, so embrace change and stay current!  But most importantly, stay happy.  No great dish is produced by grumpy and negative individuals – and that’s a fact!

Now to stray from the analogies for a second.  No great hostel is just the sum of its parts.  Facilities, location, cleanliness, outfit and security are all key ingredients to success, but it’s not everything.  An enjoyable environment needs the laughter and atmosphere that only people themselves can provide.  Your managers and staff initially create the platform for your guests to enjoy, and that combination subsequently creates the vibe and atmosphere that people will remember and come back to.  Get involved, have fun, and stay happy!





Come to NZ with a SPRING in your step!

September 21st, 2017

Ahh ‘Spring’ – you big, beautiful, blooming beast you.  Often overlooked for your colder and warmer counterparts in the form of Summer and Winter, you manage to stay off the radar as the preferred time of year for most tourists in most parts of the world.  But actually, you’re one of our preferred periods of time here in NZ, and for a couple of specific reasons.

Firstly, Spring is the precursor to Summer.  OK, that doesn’t sound like such a great compliment, but hear us out.  Winter can quite often drag a little bit, particularly for those of us that live here full-time.  Snowboarding and Skiing is great, but after a long and cold couple of months, you’re often quite willing to say ‘goodbye’ to having to layer-up the clothing and boil the kettle for the hot water bottle.  The body can be tired and stiff, your outer-wear (and inner-wear for that matter) is starting to develop that season-long odor that we know all to well, and you’re just dying for a sleep-in on the weekends, instead of having to wake up at 7am to look at every available weather and mountain report.  Spring means that the warmer Summer months are just around the corner, and that is OK by us.

Secondly, Spring means slushy snow.  Now, the piste-skiers might have a different opinion on this, but anyone who snowboards or enjoys the park/free-riding terrain LOVES Spring.  The warmer temperatures tend to mean softer snow (and riding in t-shirts), which means that the conditions are more conducive to ‘hucking your meat’ and maybe trying to few more adventurous tricks or lines you’ve been considering for the season.  Got a rail-combo on that stair set that was too scary a month ago?  Give it a bash!  See that chute line over there that has always looked a little firm?  Now’s the time to give it a go!  Soft snow means soft landings, which also means soft crashes, and that can mean the difference between riding away and a broken collarbone.  Trust us on that one…

Thirdly, it’s quieter!  And that goes for the whole country, not just our little corner of it.  Remember how we said most people prefer Summer or Winter?  Well that means that September, October and November are yours to take advantage of.  Don’t like queues?  No problem.  Prefer to leave things unplanned and go with the flow?  Perfect.  Like to save a little on retail rates on just about everything from accommodation to tours to flights?  Well this is the period for you.  Hell, just check out our rates over this period as an example, let alone the cheaper flight options available to and from NZ at this time of year.

Finally, if you’re a flower-buff this is definitively your time of year!  NZ has a substantial volume of stunning public gardens and walks, all of which are littered with any number of stunning flora to enjoy.  Queenstown Gardens in full bloom is a sight to behold, and since it’s a little quieter you can actually enjoy it almost entirely to yourself at certain times of the day.  Grab a frisbee and a beer, go for a round of ‘Frolf’ (Frisbee Golf), and lay back in the sunshine whilst you bask in the natural beauty surrounding you.  Word of warning though – if you’re the sort of person who suffers from hayfever, stock up on medication, as the same local flora that you’re admiring will give you a snout full of pollen for your troubles.

So, long story short, don’t discount Spring as a pretty wicked time to drop in to Aotearoa for a visit – if you’re anything like us, you might just enjoy it!

Down Days not Frown Days

June 30th, 2017

With the weather being a little poor today (this does mean snow though, so we’re not too worried), it’s made us consider the age old question posed by everyone at some point when the weather is particularly crappy:  What the hell do we do today?

We’re asked this every time mother nature starts playing up, and for good reason.  Obviously we’re the adventure capital of the Southern Hemisphere – if not the world – but many of these activities are weather dependent.  For instance, no one in their right mind would want to go paragliding when the wind is howling and the rain coming down. This goes the same for any air-based activity; we’re yet to meet the person that is confident sky-diving in a snow storm.  Even activities like white-water rafting and jet-boating can be hazardous when the rain has come down in proverbial cats/dogs, and the river banks are bulging and flooded.

But don’t worry, there are always options available to those who can’t be put off so easy.  Tours like quad-biking with Off-Road Adventures will operate rain, hail or shine, and this is one of those experiences that is actually better in the wet (think mud, drifting, sliding, etc.).  The TSS Earnslaw will still operate, and even if the weather doesn’t help the view, it’s always a lovely day on the bay on the old girl (and the food over at Walter Peak Station will be safe from the rain inside your tummy).  Wine tours with Queenstown Wine Trail or Appellation are always operating no matter the weather, and Onsen Hot Pools are a great way to warm up if you’ve got the winter chills.

There’s also a bunch of indoor activities right here downtown – just out the front door of our epic location actually!  Fear Factory is great for families and friends alike, just make sure you’ve used the bathroom before the shit is literally scared out of you!  Otherwise grab a cocktail at Minus 5 Ice Bar, escape the brain-tingling rooms at Escape Quest, shoot Zombies (or your friends) at Thrillride, or just grab a game of mini-golf or a movie in the cinema.

Most importantly, don’t be one of those people that flies all the way to the other side of the world, only to shelve yourself in your room/bed for days just because the weather doesn’t tickle your pickle.  You’ve come a long way to do the same thing you could do back home, so get out of your comfortable bed – in the best hostel in Queenstown 😉 – get involved in the day, and go explore our beautiful home while you’re away from your own.

The ‘must-haves’ for an epic ski-trip

May 12th, 2017

We get almost as many ‘first-timers’ staying with us in Winter as experienced snow-sliders, and that first Winter trip can always be a little daunting when it comes to packing.  The seasonaires have their process down-pat, but if it’s your first time – don’t fret!  We’ve got you covered right here with some handy advice to help you enjoy your time in the cold.

  1. Thermals!  If it’s your first Winter experience, it probably means you haven’t experienced a lot of cold before.  NZ has pretty mild winters in comparison to many other resorts around the world, however we still recommend invest in some good quality thermals.  Grab a couple of pairs as well, as unless they are merino (and even if they are) you will start to stink after a couple of days picking yourself up off the snow.
  2. Layers!  Don’t expect to just wear thermals, a t-shirt, and a big jacket.  Layer yourself up with a nice waterproof layer over top, so you’re never cold, and you can just strip off layers as necessary to cool down
  3. Don’t bring everything!  Queenstown has no dress-code when it comes to heading out on the town, so you don’t need to bring all your finer wear with you as well.  Apres Ski drinks should be enjoyed in warm clothes, so don’t be that newbie shivering under the Fergburger heaters at 3am in your short skirts/high heels.  Dress for the conditions and don’t be so concerned with how you look – function definitely trumps form in Winter!  you also don’t need a different outfit for every day of the week, so just give yourself a couple of hours to do some laundry on a day and pack lighter.
  4. Footwear!  And more importantly, socks.  Nothing is worse than cold feet, so bring some thick socks, and a lot of them.
  5. Duty Free!  Do yourself a favour and stock up a little off the plane – alcohol can get spendy, especially when you need a bevvie to discuss the days’ events every day!  So grab a bottle of your favourite, pull up a chair in reception/the kitchen, and have a chat about how rad you got before you hit the town.
  6. Alarm clock!  Don’t be ‘that person’ and miss the bus in the morning.  Just also don’t be ‘that person’ and not wake up to your alarm, thus pissing off all of your room mates!

Most importantly, just get yourself a reservation sooner rather than later, as the worst thing you can do is miss out on Queenstown’s best value accommodation!  You’ll be kicking yourself later when we get that ‘all-time’ season we’re due for 😉

Winter Winter Winter Winter!!!!!

April 2nd, 2017

It’s official – we have started our slow march into Winter.  For the sticklers of you, you’ll say “but we’re always marching towards Winter if it’s not Winter, right?”, but for a variety of reasons it always feels more ‘official’ once we hit April.  For starters, if you were intending on relocating to Queenstown or Wanaka for the season, you would have wanted to purchase your season passes prior to April, as that’s the cut-off for ‘Early Bird’ pricing.  For us it’s always a last minute decision, based on spur-of-the-moment haste just prior to midnight on the 31st of March.  This is partly because you’re holding out hope you can afford more than one season pass, but mostly because you want to make sure you choose the resort that’s right for you, and coincidentally will have most of your friends riding there through the season as well.  The feeling of impending shred-days is also exacerbated by the start of daylight savings on the 2nd of April, after which the temptation to drag out your shred-kit increases ten-fold.

For us in the Queenstown Lakes District area, it’s generally a choice between NZSki (The Remarkables and Coronet Peak), Cardrona and Treblecone.  For those based in Queenstown it’s probably a choice between NZSki and Cardrona, and for those in Wanaka it may be between Cardrona and Treblecone.  Cardrona is pretty much in between Wanaka and Queenstown, and thus tends to be convenient enough for both towns.  However the proximity of the resorts only really matters if you’re intending on doing a season here.  For those that are coming over for holiday, we would highly suggest to leave your decision-making until you get here, and not get too caught up in the distance to the resorts.

This is for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, terrain and conditions can vary quite significantly between each mountain, and depending on the day it may be better to go ‘here’ rather than ‘there’ so to speak.  Holding off until you get here gives you the best chance at getting the best conditions at whichever resort on that day, and if you’re serious about slashing the white stuff, this is enough of a reason in itself.  The second reason is that when you’re visiting, you should endeavor to experience as many resorts as possible.  If it’s your first time here, you may find a particular mountain suits you and your riding style, and thus finding that mountain might be paramount to getting the most out of your holiday.  But – rather more poetically – we should also remember to enjoy the journey.  Our roads are surrounded by vistas you find on postcards and instagram, and sometimes (particularly if you drive yourself) you might just find that hidden gem on the way back for that apres drink you’ve positively earned that day.

Whatever resort you decide, just remember that no ‘epic’ day starts by complaining about the effort required for said day.  Just make sure you book your accommodation ahead of time if you want to be at Queenstown’s best and most central accommodation.  Just because the resorts aren’t especially convenient, doesn’t mean everything else can’t be 😉


Why not Autumn or Spring?

March 9th, 2017

Summer and Winter tend to be the most popular periods to visit Queenstown for obvious reason.  However the Autumn and Spring periods often get overlooked for their warmer and colder counterparts.  Fair enough too.  Winter is there for the skiers and boarders (we don’t tend to get a lot of snow at the end of Summer – go figure?), and Summer is for the sunshine chasers, those hoping to get New Zealand in it’s best (and warmest) dress.

But Autumn and Spring have their place as well.  If landscape colour is your bag, look no further than March, April and May – particularly late April/early May, when the trees look like their on fire, and chocolate is still in abundance from Easter.  Queenstown can sometimes turn it on weather-wise as well, and these months tend to be a bit quieter on average, meaning there’s more of Queenstown to go around.

Spring still catches the snow season, and quite often September can be the month of the season.  Warmer temperatures and quite often sunny conditions means it’s “Suns’ out, Guns out” kind of days up the hills, giving us slushy snow and longer days to shred it.  As the season continues and the mountains close, the days give way to mountain biking and hiking, keeping the stoke high as the season eventually breaks to warm temperatures and an excuse to get your flesh tanned after a long period of covering up your extremities.

In all honesty, unless there’s a particular weather condition you’re looking to catch, you’ll never be disappointed with the time of year you decide to visit us.  Just make sure you book in advance using our system to guarantee the most availability and best prices for your stay.  We wouldn’t want you to miss out on your chance to crash with us at the most central Queenstown accommodation in town!

Dirt is the new snow…

October 5th, 2016

In the last decade the world has watched the exponential rise of the Mountain Bike industry.  We believe this is partly because it’s pretty rad to watch the guys and girls ‘huck’ themselves of crazy cliffs/jumps/anything in their way, but also because pretty much everyone can ride a bike.  This fact allows people to have a real connection with the crazier aspects of the sport, as the fact that we can ride a bike gives us a real perspective of how ridiculously talented and crazy some of the professionals really are.  It’s entirely humbling to watch with an understanding we might never be able to do the same things, but sometimes it’s entirely inspiring, and provides the creative kick to get yourself started on a similar journey.

After 10 years of living in Queenstown, I have had the pleasure of watching the industry burgeon from within.  I moved to this area actually because I was already in love with the sport, as I just happened to see a segment of the riding available within the area on a free DVD.  Now with a decade of development in the ‘scene’, the infrastructure available to riders is incredible, and the comparisons between Queenstown and the mountain bike mecca that is Whistler have begun.

What really boosted the industry here was the support from Skyline Queenstown.  Whilst we’ve always had great trails and riding avenues around, lift access was the one thing that was lacking.  Coronet Peak and Cardrona had tried in years gone by, but at that point decided that it wasn’t worth their time and effort as the industry hadn’t quite kicked off.  Skyline Queenstown had historically been against allowing biking access on the gondola – even though there were always trails up there – but come 2011 they decided to change their tune.  Fast forward to 2016, and the ‘gondy’ is now firmly the jewel in the NZ mountain bike crown, drawing riders from all over the globe for a cheeky shred.

The best part about this, is the inclusion of beginner trails.  I still think back to the days of attempting to teach people on what were considered the easiest tracks in the area before gondola access – it is now entirely apparent that we were putting people in the deep end!  The beginner trails accessed by the Gondola provide an exemplary learning environment for those wishing to give the sport a go, allowing anyone who can ride a bike to experience the thrills of downhill mountain biking in an environment that isn’t too daunting.  Trails are sign-posted and graded much like ski runs at a resort, so there’s everything from complete novice (green) to the raddest of the rad (double black).

But the gondola is only one aspect of the riding available in Queenstown.  There is everything from basic riding paths for families, to 60ft gap jumps, to easily accessed and free trail centers for people to earn their turns and become one with nature.  So don’t let the opportunity slip by – get yourself a reservation at one of the best hostel’s in Queenstown, and get out on your bike today.  We’ve even got secure storage for your pride and joy while you catch some z’s after a long day of shred!


Best time for a Queenstown Holiday

September 2nd, 2016

We get a lot of questions about the best time to visit Queenstown or New Zealand in general.  Obviously this comes down to personal preference in most cases, and some activities are entirely dependent on a certain season – it wouldn’t be exactly ideal to come for a snowboarding trip in the middle of Summer for instance.  But Queenstown really is a year-round resort, and there really isn’t a ‘bad’ time to come visit as it were.  It’s just entirely a lottery in regards to the weather!

Summer and Winter are definitely peak season here, which means the streets are abuzz with activity at all times.  Reservations really are essential for these times of year – December through to April and then June through to August – so if you are intending on heading our way, make sure you get a reservation in advance.  Particularly in Winter, as the predominant amount of guests are booking months in advance, so you don’t want to literally be left out in the cold!  But if you want to see Queenstown at it’s peak in terms of people and weather, then these are the periods for you.  There’s never a shortage of people to party with, and likewise finding a friend to do a Bungy or tour to Milford Sound with is just as easy.

On the other hand, if crowds aren’t your ‘thing’, and you’re not too perplexed about seeing Queenstown at its’ coldest or hottest, then Spring and Autumn might be more your speed.  It is definitely quieter during these periods around town – in saying that though, if you’ve never seen the town at the peak times, you could be forgiven for thinking it was still hustling and bustling!  But trust us, it definitely is quieter around town (and New Zealand in general), which can be a nice change of pace if making plans in advance really isn’t your ‘thing’.  Everything still operates as normal over these periods though, so you won’t miss out on that Skydive you really wanted to do, and quite often accommodation can be cheaper during these seasons!  Spring and Autumn also bring out the best in the local flora, so if seeing the country in full bloom, or likewise seeing the hills on fire with Autumn colours are what really gets you going, then look no further:  September through November for those who like to stop and smell the roses (literally), and April through May for those who can’t get enough of the colours orange, yellow and red.

So don’t think you’re missing out by coming to visit us here at Absoloot Value Accommodation during ‘off-peak’ season – you might regret not doing it sooner.

I Hate Skiing, Should I Visit Queenstown in Winter?

August 16th, 2016

For many places tourism is a seasonal affair. The advantage we have in Queenstown is that most activities can be accessed all year round regardless of the weather. While it’s true that the majority of Queenstown’s winter-visitors are only there for the (admittedly excellent) skiing and snowboarding, there’s still plenty of fun to be had off the slopes.


So what exactly is there to do in and around Queenstown between June and September that doesn’t involve skiing? Plenty, as it turns out! Here are some of our favourite off-piste winter-time activities:


  1. Snowshoeing – quite literally, hiking in the snow wearing specialized snow-shoes. These are personalized guided tours for small groups that explores the snow-covered wilderness of the back-country. No skiing experience necessary, if you can walk, you can snow-shoe.


  1. Mountaineering – fancy recreating the Everest experience in the relative comfort and safety of Queenstown’s backyard? Go mountaineering! These guided expeditions range from a single day trip to an epic three day trek. Available at all skill levels and guides are always on hand to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.


  1. Snowmobiles – laugh the people slowly trudging up a mountain in snowshoes as you zoom past them in your very own snowmobile. Explore Queenstown’s back-country wilderness travelling on exclusive snowmobile trails. Some of these trails are so remote they are accessible only by helicopter. These are professionally guided tours and limited to individuals or small groups.


  1. Chairlift Ride – to some, the chairlift ride up a mountain is the best part of the whole skiing experience. So why not simply enjoy the relaxing chairlift ride without all the hassle of carrying bulky ski equipment? Take in the incredible panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from your vantage point in the sky as you slowly ascend the ski-lift. Enjoy a spot of lunch or a cup of warm cocoa at the top of the mountain before descending back down to earth in another chairlift.


  1. Go Skating – who says you need to brave the elements to enjoy some winter fun? Located in nearby Queenstown Gardens, Queenstown Ice Arena is a world-class indoor skating rink that lets you unleash your inner Tonya Harding in a safe and controlled environment. No need to bring your own gear as the arena has rentals.


And if that’s not enough, you can also go on an outdoor nature hike, bike tour, scenic boat cruise, wine-tasting tour, aerial sightseeing tour plus all the regular parasailing, jetboating, skydiving, bungy jumping, whitewater-rafting insanity Queenstown is famous for. Even if you have no intention of lacing up a pair of ski-boots, there are an endless amount of things to see and do in Queenstown in the winter.

So we here at Absoloot Value Hostel Queenstown look forward to seeing you soon!

The Snow Is Back In Queenstown

July 21st, 2016

After a disappointing start to winter, the snow is back in Queenstown! A snowstorm has spread across the area dumping tons of snow on the ski-fields of the adventure capital of the world – welcome news for the many tourists who have descended upon Queenstown for the winter ski season. The snowfall started on July 14 and continued for many days beyond, covering both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.


Coronet Peak saw some 10cm of fresh snow cover in just one night while The Remarkable’s boasted an impressive 12cm to 16cm of snow cover. The forecast looks favorable for the next couple days with more heavy snowfall amid intermittent sunshine. Needless to say, Queenstowns skiers and snowboarders are more than happy to take advantage of the good conditions while they last.


The heavy snowfall coincides with the start of New Zealand’s school holidays, which is great news for Queenstown’s two large ski fields and related businesses across town.



Representatives from both snow-fields were predictably upbeat about the recent deluge of snow. The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence stated that the new snowfall had “changed the landscape” of the slopes, and went on to say that everyone was “…very excited and people up here are absolutely fizzing about the conditions.” Lawrence went on to add that he expects the snowfall to increase in the next couple of days and that visitors to the ski-field were having a blast “…watching the snowfall, which is a highlight for those on holiday.”

If you are looking ofr a great, yet affordable place to stay, then check out Absoloot Value Backpackers right in the heart of Queenstown